The Z68A-GD80 kept pace with a couple other P67-based motherboards we pitted it against in the power consumption arena. Under idle conditions, the Z68A ran several watts lower than the other boards, but under load conditions, the board didn't break the bank at 168 watts. The power management system MSI incorporated with the Z68A-GD80 is an excellent blend of hardware and software improvements to give users enough options to have an eco-friendly system or monster overclocking rig.
The MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) has several nice features, such as two FireWire ports, four USB 3.0 ports, three PCI Express x16 slots, decent audio quality with optical SPDIF output, a very high-end voltage regulator circuit, and an impressive set of overclocking options, allowing you to increase the CPU base clock using 0.01 MHz (10 kHz) steps, which is unbelievable. In addition, the OC Genie button allows you to overclock your system without the need of manually changing any complicated settings. It supports Lucidlogix Virtu technology, allowing the computer to automatically turn off your add-on video cards when you are not playing games, thereby saving energy. Furthermore, you can benefit from Intel’s Smart Response Technology to greatly improve your system’s performance.
- PCI Express Gen 3 slots
- Military Class II components: Top quality & stability
- OC Genie II: Auto OC to boost performance in 1 sec
- ClickBIOS: Easy-to-use UEFI BIOS interface
- Super Charger: fast charge iPad/iPhone/smartphone
- THX TruStudio PRO: delivers the fullest audio experience
- Supports USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s
One nice addition to the board, but not an necessarily important one at this point in time, is the PCIe 3.0 slots. This technology effectively doubles the bandwidth of the PCIe x16 slots, which will improve performance down the road. For the time being though, PCIe 3.0 is not going to deliver performance gains with today's cards, but this may soon change because AMD could be releasing their Gen 3.0 graphics cards as early as this fall. To be sure, the generation 3.0 slots are still backwards compatible, so PCIe x16 graphics card will still work with this board.
A few other notable features in the GD80 are OC Genie, MSI Control Center, and a UEFI / software GUI BIOS. For quick and easy overclocking, MSI has included an OC Genie button that provides instant overclocking of CPU, memory, and iGPU. For a more hands-on overclocking approach MSI’s Control Center utility provides overclocking and power saving options in a Windows environment.
While the MSI Z68A-GD80-G3 is designed for the high end enthusiast user, we appreciate the methodology with the design. Keep it simple for inexperienced users who still want some benefit from enhanced clock speeds, but offer a comprehensive bios configuration for those who want to push the hardware to breaking point.
When it's all said and done, MSI has put together a good functional package with the Z68A-GD80 that offers up real performance enhancements along with some innovative features to put this board a couple notches above the P67 based boards in its lineup.
- Fantastic bios.
- OC Genie button is a nice touch.
- good memory compatibility.
- connectivity is first class.
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